The Barack Obama article was started by an anonymous user in 2004. It has 6256 distinct authors. The Article on the Syrian civil war was edited 305 times in the last 30 days.

Many readers do not see the living breathing community that’s constantly working to create, edit, and update articles on Wikipedia. At the Wikimedia Foundation, the Design team has been conceptualizing methods for doing a better job of showcasing how editors create this knowledge. We want people with no prior edits to feel that contributing to Wikipedia is something anyone with the right intent can do.

When we talk about humanizing articles we want to:

  • Create awareness about editors and their interests on Wikipedia
  • Promote connections within the community using shared interests

This isn’t just creating a ‘show and tell’ social layer. We want to see the site’s design to encourage interactions that benefit and improve the project. For instance: If I discovered an editor who helps newbies or works on graphic design articles, I could seek his help in the future. In this way I’m constructing a relationship with other editors that facilitates content development.

Where are the opportunities for adding these elements that show people, their work, discussions and the process of evolution? Currently we see a last modified link at the bottom of the page. The link is buried at the bottom and takes you to another page that doesn’t do the best job of showing how the article evolved. It looks something like this:

Screenshots and mockups for the mobile interface

A simple experiment

One option for an early experiment is to promote the ‘last modified message’ to the top of the page in a way that it informs, but does not distract, the reader. We’ve sketched a potential option in the image below, where a rollup info-graphic could be made available if a user pulls upward from the article title.

Screenshots and mockups for the mobile interface

These pixels are hidden on first load and we certainly don’t intend for this to interrupt the reader experience. The “unique editors” banner links to a deeper article history page where one can see how the article evolved over time. The key next step would be to enable a user to invoke editor profiles from the history view.

While the details are being refined, we’d be happy to hear your comments or alternate ideas on the general design approach to contributions.

Vibha Bamba (Design)
Kenan Wang & Maryana Pinchuk (Product)
Wikimedia Foundation